FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 22, 2022)– Today, Gov. Andy Beshear updated Kentuckians on freezing winter weather; economic development progress; eviction relief in Louisville; disaster recovery and rebuilding efforts in Eastern Kentucky; public health; and federal high-speed internet maps. He also named Santa Claus and Shawn and Tammy Adams, who conveyed land at no cost for rebuilding efforts in Eastern Kentucky, as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars.
The Governor provided an update on the arctic front moving across the commonwealth. A flash freeze is likely as this change occurs. Total snowfall is expected to be 1 to 3 inches, and wind gusts are expected to reach as high as 45 mph. Below-freezing temperatures will begin this afternoon in the west and move across Central Kentucky tonight.
Wind chills will drop below zero degrees and will be down to minus 25 to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit tonight and into Friday. However, below-freezing temperatures are expected to linger until Tuesday.
The Governor reminded Kentuckians that local warming centers will be open. To find a local center, Kentuckians should contact their local emergency management officials and first responders as well as follow their official social media accounts. The Kentucky State Resort Parks are available as backup warming locations.
“Plan on slippery road conditions, especially tonight and moving into tomorrow. If you can stay off the roads, please do,” Gov. Beshear said. “If it gets that cold, we can get to a point that the salt won’t work to stop ice if we have certain conditions. If you can avoid travel, please do. Admittedly, my family canceled plans with my parents tonight, because we need to be safe and make sure we’re all doing the right and the safe things.”
“Being prepared starts with being aware of what is coming, and we have a good storm prediction of what is coming from the National Weather Service. This gives us the opportunity to prepare. We don’t always get this opportunity, so let’s seize it,” said Kentucky Emergency Management Director Jeremy Slinker. “We encourage you to follow your local, state and national emergency management agencies on social media if you are able. Keep track of their tips and their weather warnings as well. Keep up with whatever keeps you connected with your current conditions.”
“In all 12 highway districts, which includes all 120 counties, we are closely monitoring the weather as forecasts become clearer. We have up to 2,000 employees that are available and 1,365 pieces of equipment. Our crews will be deployed in stages as conditions require them, but we must prepare and be prepared for the long haul,” said Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray. “Public safety and employee safety are our top priorities, and we will be doing all we can in both respects. We are up against some very tough conditions. Please stay off the roads unless it is absolutely essential.”
Yesterday, the Governor declared a state of emergency and implemented the state price gouging laws.
Economic Development Update
Gov. Beshear provided a recap of this year’s economic development progress. This year, the commonwealth has seen nearly 250 new-location and expansion announcements committed to invest almost $10.5 billion and create over 16,000 full-time jobs. Those figures position 2022 as Kentucky’s second highest year for new investment behind only 2021’s record year and third highest for job creation.
“Our state is bouncing back from a pandemic and multiple natural disasters in a way that is setting the foundation for future growth and a brighter tomorrow for Kentucky families,” said Gov. Beshear.
Wages continue to rise in the commonwealth, as Kentucky’s incentivized hourly wage for projects statewide in 2022 was $26.78 before benefits, an 11.5% increase over last year’s $24 average and the second highest over an eight-year period.
This year included record investment and job growth in the bourbon and spirits industry, including the sector’s largest investment in state history. For 2022, Kentucky’s bourbon and spirits industry saw more than 30 announcements totaling $2.18 billion in new investments and 730 full-time jobs.
Gov. Beshear also highlighted the commonwealth’s rapidly growing electric vehicle sector. In April, the Governor was joined by the leadership at Envision AESC to announce the state’s second-largest economic development project in history. This $2 billion investment is creating 2,000 full-time jobs in Warren County and broke ground in August.
With Ford Motor Co. and SK On celebrating the largest economic development project in state history in 2021, these announcements solidify Kentucky as the EV battery production capital of the United States of America. In total, Kentucky’s automotive sector in 2022 brought in over $4.2 billion in new investments, creating 4,200 full-time positions.
Manufacturers continue to be a driving force behind Kentucky’s continued economic growth this year as well, contributing to well over 9,000 of the announced jobs over the past year behind $8.2 billion in new investments. Manufacturing plays a vital role across numerous key sectors in the commonwealth, with roughly 5,000 facilities employing approximately 250,000 Kentucky residents.
Kentucky’s announced investment and planned job creation this year furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger from the effects of the pandemic, the Western Kentucky tornadoes and the flooding in Eastern Kentucky.
Eviction Relief Efforts inLouisville
Today, Gov. Beshear announced the reallocation of more than $38.2 million through Team Kentucky’s Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund to further support Louisville renters and landlords who are still impacted by the pandemic. Since the program launched in February 2021, Gov. Beshear has directed over $92.2 million in funds to Louisville.
Funds Available to Help Kentuckians Pay Their Heating Bills
Today, the Governor encouraged low-income Kentuckians to apply for help paying their heating bills. Applications are being accepted starting Jan. 9 for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program Crisis Component. To access fact sheets from the state’s six participating utility companies, click here.
The LIHEAP Crisis Component program is administered by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services in partnership with Community Action Kentucky agencies across the state. Applications are accepted first come, first serve during the enrollment period that begins Jan. 9 through March 31, 2023, or until funds run out. To locate your local office, please call 800-456-3452.
Plans for Rebuilding Eastern Kentucky
Tuesday, Gov. Beshear unveiled a vision for long-term recovery in Eastern Kentucky that begins with a high-ground community in Knott County. This is the first of several locations in Eastern Kentucky that are being considered for rebuilding projects. The state is currently evaluating multiple sites in four counties: Breathitt, Knott, Letcher and Perry.
The Governor also announced that the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund is committing funds to build eight new homes in partnership with the Housing Development Alliance and Homes Inc. Gov. Beshear also announced a new partnership with Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky to assist flood survivors with home repairs.
Eastern Kentucky Flood Update
Gov. Beshear provided an update on Eastern Kentucky’s stabilization and rebuilding efforts following July’s historic floods. The Governor announced today that the death toll is now 44 across six counties. The increase is due to the death of Mae Amburgey, 97, of Letcher County.
Currently, 266 households are being housed in travel trailers. There are 312 travel trailers on site in 10 different locations. Kentucky State Parks employees continue to work with local and state emergency management officials to actively transition affected families into travel trailers and long-term housing solutions. The Governor said that Kentucky State Parks are now housing 55 people, down from the 360 people sheltered on Sept. 1.
If flood victims need help, please call FEMA directly or visit a Multi-Agency Resource Center. Visit governor.ky.gov/FloodResources for more information. FEMA is still approving claims and actively working to help flood victims.
Waterway debris removal is nearly complete. To date, the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund has raised over $13 million from more than 41,000 donors. To contribute, click here. For other information regarding flooding in Eastern Kentucky, visit governor.ky.gov/FloodResources.
Gov. Beshear also updated Kentuckians on influenza, RSV and COVID-19 in the commonwealth. He said that the spread of influenza continues to increase in Kentucky and is on track to be the worst flu season in at least 10 years. The Governor announced that six children have died from influenza. Sadly, yesterday, another pediatric flu death was reported and is currently under investigation. If confirmed, this will be the seventh pediatric flu death in Kentucky. Most influenza detections in the commonwealth have been identified as Type A. The flu vaccine has been updated this year and is expected to perform well against this circulating strain.
RSV activity appears to be declining but is still causing outbreaks in Kentucky day cares and preschools. People of any age can become infected with RSV, and most recover within one to two weeks. RSV can be serious, however, especially for infants and older adults.
The Governor said that the most recent COVID-19 data shows that the virus appears to be increasing following Thanksgiving. He encouraged those who are eligible to get their COVID-19 vaccine booster.
Kentuckians Urged to Help Improve Federal High-Speed Internet Maps
In an ongoing effort to expand reliable high-speed internet access across the commonwealth, Gov. Beshear is encouraging all Kentuckians to check out the recently released National Broadband Map, compiled by the Federal Communications Commission, and provide feedback to improve the map’s accuracy.
Team Kentucky All-Stars
Today, Gov. Beshear thanked Santa Claus for being a Team Kentucky All-Star.
“During his busiest week of the year, Santa traveled to Eastern Kentucky a little early to deliver toys to children impacted by this summer’s devastating floods,” Gov. Beshear said. “Over the past year, Santa Claus and First Lady Britainy Beshear have brought more than 100,000 gifts, as well as hundreds of meals, to tornado and flood survivors. There were toys for the kids and more than $200,000 in gift cards to make this season a little easier for parents who have already lost so much.”
The Governor also celebrated two other Team Kentucky All-Stars who have shown incredible generosity this Christmas season.
This week, the Governor secured 75 acres in Knott County where a new, high-ground community can be built to provide new homes for flood survivors. The initial building site in Knott County can be expanded up to 300 acres and was conveyed at no cost by private owners and community members Shawn and Tammy Adams. Construction is slated to begin in early 2023. To learn more, see the full release.
“We don’t just want the families impacted by natural disasters to get by, we want them to thrive and experience the prosperity that our entire commonwealth is going to see after years of record economic development,” Gov. Beshear said. “Shawn and Tammy, we can’t thank you enough. This gift is going to change lives for generations to come.”